Today I was trying to open a particularly stubborn DWFx file. In Autodesk Design Review 2013 it would stall completely. ADR 2018 would throw an error, crash or stall as well. I ended up using Autodesk 360 and Navisworks 2019/2020, and these were able to read the model.


However, in the process I found these links to install the very latest version of Autodesk Design Review:


Its also quite weird that the main Autodesk Design Review page still links to the 2013 version, not the 2018 version?

Sometimes in Glue addin for Revit will fail with the message One or more gluing errors occurred“.

You may be able to workaround this problem by following these steps:

  1. After receiving the error, immediately browse to your Temp directory. To do this, open Windows Explorer and type %TEMP% in the address bar.
  2. Sort by Date Modified
  3. Look for a DWF or NWC that matches the View Name that failed to Glue in Revit
  4. Grab that file, and remove the suffix (usually a few digits) so that the DWF Filename = View Name = Glue Model name
  5. Using the Glue desktop app, upload that model manually
Renamed model ready for upload

This process opens up an interesting possibility… usually when exporting a DWF using plain Revit, it will always use Project Internal coordinates. However, the Glue addin can actually export DWFs with Shared Coordinates (if you choose that in the Glue export More Options dialog).

Using the above steps 1-5, you can ‘find’ this DWF with Shared Coordinates and use it wherever you please… such as in Navisworks.

Sometimes you have a set of DWFs that you would like to work with in Revit. For example, you might have DWFs of site equipment, fences and trucks that would be useful for site modelling in Revit. Here is one way to get those dwfs into a more Revit-friendly format…

Note: You need to have iConstruct with their Smart IFC Exporter for this workflow

Phase 1
Create a container NWD for DWF files, so that you can fix rotation and coordinates:

  1. Append DWFs
  2. Save as rotator.nwd
  3. Append to an NWF
  4. Adjust units, 90 degree rotation about 1-0-0 axis as per this link:
  5. Save as container.nwf

Phase 2
Steps to convert DWF to IFC with colours and object selectability:

  1. Open two Navisworks 2016 instances
  2. Open the rotator.nwd from above in one instance
  3. Append any DWFs you would like to convert
  4. Adjust their Units and Transform until they look right
  5. Save the rotator.nwd
  6. Open the container.nwf
  7. Refresh to reload the rotator if necessary
  8. Now, hide everything but ‘shell’ elements using a search like this:
  9. Save the search set for Item Type = Shell
  10. Set up an iConstruct IFC config…

    Type a Name
    Press Building button
    Expand to IfcBuildingElementProxy, userdefined
    Choose search set for Item Type = Shell from above


  11. Should look like this…

  12. Close config dialog
  13. Go to Smart IFC Export and choose the export config you just saved
  14. Fill out next dialog and press ok
  15. Choose target IFC location
  16. Wait for Navisworks to export the IFC

Phase 3 – into Revit
After IFC is created, open Revit. Ensure you have latest IFC updates installed, then open the the IFC. Wait for Revit to complete importing… For the most part, you should get a pretty good looking result. One exception is where the DWF had one ‘shell’ with multiple materials, like this:

In any case, now you have a bunch of ‘Revit elements’ (yes, I use the term loosely) that can be made into Model Groups. They aren’t in families, but you can make them into little rvts to load as links. I realise there are some limitations in this workflow, but in some cases there is no other way…

If you are interested in more to do with DWF conversions, check out these links:

What Revit Wants: How to Convert a DWF to Editable Format, or How to Export from Navisworks and Keep Modelling in BIM
What Revit Wants: Convert DWF to DWG using free tools

Future post: hope to see some Dynamo method to consume DWFs and create DirectShapes in Revit 🙂

A DWF file is somewhat of an an end-point when it comes to 3D data and BIM workflows.  By design, it is difficult to repurpose a DWF into a format where you can then alter the model, or use it in a design environment for context.  It is even harder to export it to a form that includes both geometry and data, such as IFC.

It is an enticing prospect, however, because virtually all Autodesk software exports to DWF.  For example, Navisworks can export the elements visible in any view to a nice, lightweight DWF that inherits all the associated BIM data from the original element.  Therefore, if we are able to convert DWF to an editable format, we would also be creating a way to Import Navisworks data into Revit.

Thus begins my pursuit of how to get Navisworks exported to IFC, or DWF converted to IFC.  I explored 5 options:

  1. Direct IFC Export from Navisworks using iConstruct [geometry + data]
  2. Navisworks to DWF to various 3D formats using Okino NuGraf [geometry]
  3. Navisworks to DWF to Adobe 8 or 9 Pro Extended [geometry]
  4. Navisworks to FBX to SAT (using 3dsMax) to Revit [free option if you have Suite, material data to 3ds Max, geometry to Revit]
  5. Use Simlab DWF Importer for Sketchup [some data to SKP, then geometry to IFC OR
    v7 SKP to Revit for Category data]

It’s a long post, so here is the summary. At the moment, Option 1 – iConstruct Smart IFC Exporter for Navisworks is probably the best way to get data from Navisworks or DWF into IFC and then into a BIM target application. If you just want geometry for context, I would probably go with Option 4 if you have a Autodesk Suite, because you probably already have everything installed that you need. Finally, Option 5 isn’t actually too bad, but you probably need to buy 2 products (Sketchup and the importer).

Now, onward to the experiments…
Option 1:
Downloads for iConstruct Navisworks add-in are at:
iConstruct Downloads page
(you will need to request and wait for a trial license)

iConstruct install options:

After install, iConstruct will be available on your ribbon:

So, we have the Smart IFC Exporter, but where is the DWG Exporter?  More on that later.

Let’s try IFC.  Go to a view that you want to export.  Here’s what happens when you click on the export button:

If you try to export without selecting anything, you will get this message:

Ok, so here is a step by step:

  1. Go to the view you want to export
  2. Hold down Shift+Spacebar and do a crossing window to select everything visible
  3. Start the Smart IFC Exporter
  4. Wait for the export to finish.  This could take a while.  My federated model of a single sector/level triggered a “geometry filter” stage during export of over 180000 items.  Overall, it took 28 hours to export using the “smallest sub-component” option.  The resulting IFC file was over 2000mb in size – and it was essentially unusable (it appeared to be corrupted).  After this, I tried a much simpler model, with only about 30 items.  It was much quicker to export.

This was the “simple” model in Revit:

This was the IFC export from Navisworks:

And the IFC file imported back into Revit 2013.  Category information seems to be lost, but otherwise we have a geometry + data roundtrip:

Here are a couple of other views from a different Navisworks to IFC conversion:


Note – to get the DWG exporter to show up, you need to save at least one template, like this:

Here is my sample file using the Smart DWG Exporter from Navisworks to DWG:

(If you are interested – the large, complicated, federated IFC model failed to import to Revit 2014.  It also did not display in Tekla BIMsight  However, it evidently contained data, as shown:

Option 2:
You can download a demo of NuGraf / PolyTrans at:

Install choice:

It prefers DWF?

DWF import options:


View generation:

Export options:

Let’s try DWG, because we know we could import or link this to Revit for modelling context.  In this case, a 34mb DWF became a 260mb DWG.  However, the quality and definition of the exported geometry is impressive, once opened in AutoCAD:

More info:
Okino PolyTrans and NuGraf Software Demo Downloads – Page 2

Option 3:
Read more about why Acrobat 8 and 9 are more powerful for 3D than later versions, and find download links here.

Autodesk filters are an install option:

Import file formats:

Import options for DWF:

The model tree comprehends some of the BIM structure:

Select the model and right click to edit in Adobe 3D Reviewer.  From here, there are various export options:

Export options:

Option 4:
If we go from Navisworks to FBX to SAT (using 3dsMax) to Revit, the material information actually gets as far as 3dsMax:

But once we export from there to SAT and import to Revit, we just get geometry.

Option 5:
Install Sketchup.

Download SimLab DWF Importer from:
(you will need to request and wait for a license)

Export DWF file from Navisworks.  In the example I tested (same model / view as I used in Option 1), the DWF was 40mb.  Then use, the Plugin to import the DWF.  This never completed, just thrashed the system for ages:

So, as with Option 1, I tried a simpler model.

This was the DWF imported to Sketchup.  As you can see, the model has some awareness about the Category of the element:

Then, I used the IFC export option from Sketchup 2014.  The geometry and “object resolution” imported OK to Revit 2014, but it looks like the actual BIM data was lost in translation:

I had almost given up, but then I tried saving from Sketchup 2014 to Sketchup version 7, then importing that to Revit.  Guess what?  We get some Category information in the actual name of the Import Symbol!

For an interesting discussion around DWF, NWC and IFC, check out:

Probably the browser one is the most interesting…  Oh, is it only me that finds the misspelling of accuracy quite hilarious 🙂

 JT Import Add-in
Enables JT files to be accessed from within Design Review with full fidelity and accuracty.

DGN Import Add-in
Working with DGN? Now Autodesk has a add-in for Design Review to enable importing of DGN files, making your design review process more seamless.

Autodesk® Design Review Browser Add-in
The Autodesk Design Review Browser add-in for Autodesk Design Review software lets you view DWF™ files using Mozilla® Firefox® and Google Chrome for the Windows® operating system. Now, you can view embedded DWF files in Firefox and Chrome much the same way as you do in the Microsoft® Internet Explorer® browser.


PDF is ubiquitous.  As great as DWF is, it just will never have the market saturation that PDF does.  That is why there is definitely a market for a good tool to make 3D PDFs from Revit.  As Revit users, we already have access to a nice looking 3D model with BIM data, but how do we transmit it or show it to key stakeholders (who may not be tech savvy)?  Sure, we can easily make a DWF, but then we have to educate people about using new viewing tools etc.  Let’s just make a 3D PDF and email it across for review 🙂

I have previously posted at least 4 ways to make a 3D PDF for free from Revit:

  1. Using the i-model plugin (also using Navisworks FBX to i-model)
  2. Converting a DWF
  3. Revit to OBJ to DAZ Studio to U3D to Adobe 3D PDF
  4. 3D PDF from Revit STL using Meshlab, MiKTeX and U3D-2-PDF

So here is the point of this post (in the words of 3DA Systems rep):
we’re hoping you can review 3D PDF Converter, particularly from the point of view of seeing how it exceeds the free options out there.

That is the question – does this paid tool exceed the free methods?  And if so, in what ways?

I’ll be the first to admit that the four free methods I have shown have various disadvantages, such as:

  • they require the use of a plethora of middle man tools
  • they may not include real BIM data from the model
  • in most cases, you don’t get realistic representation of materiality (perhaps just an approximation)
  • topography export is a bit unpredictable

In other words, they can be a pain to create, and don’t produce a great result.

After installation, I opened a project in Revit 2013.  Switching to the Add-ins Ribbon, I could see the following new commands:


I then switched to a perspective view, but guess what?  You can’t export from a perspective view.  This makes sense, because all my add-ins were greyed out in the Perspective view.  As I wanted to take all the view settings from that particular view (which was a render scene), I created a View Template from it and applied it to a orthogonal (Default) 3D View.  I also applied a Section Box.  Finally, I picked Create PDF

I was presented with dialog box that allows some very granular control of the resultant PDF.  Here is what it looks like:

I selected Shaded Illustration as the Visual Style, and then clicked OK.  Then – go and have a coffee… About 12 minutes later, I had my first 3D PDF.  A few things:

  • it did not respect the Section Box
  • it did not respect the Visibility show / hide settings of the source view

Basically, I had a 3D PDF (including BIM data) of “everything”.  It was highly detailed, but not visually appealing.  So, I figured I should try again – perhaps I missed something in the settings?

This time around, I noticed that I could export “selected” elements.  So I selected everything I could see in my Section Boxed view and triggered Create PDF again.  This time, I also tried CAD Optimized Lights.

The resulting file is lightweight and easily viewable.  However, you don’t get textured materiality – because 3D PDF itself doesn’t support that.

In short, you get what you pay for.  This is a mature, highly functional add-in that makes 3D PDF export simple and very easy to control.  It certainly exceeds the free methods, both in terms of ease-of-use and ability to customize the output.

So, how do you get it?  The download process is painless, just go to this link for a fully functional 30 day trial:

The main decision you will have to make is which version do you want to use?  What is the difference?

For the most current versions (2012/13 and 14), the only difference is the version of Revit they work with.

The difference between the 2014 release and the release from last year is that 2014 does not require Acrobat in order to create 3D models – it’s totally standalone (although you will still need Acrobat to create 2D models).
For me, this difference is a big deal.  I’m still happy to use CutePDF for 2D prints, so technically, I don’t need to purchase full Acrobat to use the 2014 version (that is, version 5).

For a comparison between the compression methods of DWF and 3D PDF, check out:
Comparison of VRML, DWF, U3D (used in 3D PDF), and Kaon Compression – Kaon Knowledge Base

What is Navisworks Manage good for?

  • Model aggregation – either from pure Revit or from a mixture of 3D software
  • Clash Detection
  • Programme Visualization (timelining)
Some great things about Navisworks:

  • it is very fast to navigate around the model in 3D, and files are generally lightweight
  • you can easily switch between Orthographic and Perspective (its funny the things that impress you as a Revit user…)
  • SpacePilot Pro integration works very smoothly, even better than Revit (probably because the models are lightweight, so the SPP isn’t fighting your system specs to redraw things, as in Revit)

Note: this article based on using Navisworks Manage 2013, Service Pack 2 ( on Windows XP 64-bit.

Key things to keep in mind when exporting or opening Revit files for use in Navisworks:

  • Firstly, it seems most people recommend using the Revit add-in to export a Navisworks NWC from a dedicated Revit 3D view (rather than opening the RVT direct from Navisworks).  This way, you can have some certainty about the export result (the correct Design Option is exported etc)
  • If you have Shared Coordinates set up and working between your various Revit models, things will be a lot simpler.  There is an option in the exporter where you can specify that it uses Shared Coordinates.  If you are working with a set of RVTs where shared coordinates were never properly set up, you may need to pick a particular RVT and publish coordinates to all related RVTs in the set.  This may become tricky if there is no site / main host file and you have to play around by cascading coordinates into all related RVTs… you get the idea.
Some things that will help you:
  • Press F2 anywhere to rename
  • Navisworks has a Project Browser (View – Windows – Project Browser).  You can append a 2D DWF containing drawing sheets, and view these sheets in Navisworks from the Browser.  You can also select objects from these imported Sheets and find them in the 3D model! (more info on this below)
  • When clashing, you can group clashes related to a particular item by right-clicking on it and selecting “Group Clashes Involving Item”:

  • There are a few tweaks that I find useful on the Clash Detective – Display Settings panel.  I only set Item 2 to be highlighted (leaving Item 1 controlled by a previously applied Appearance Profile), and set the Viewpoint to Save changes.  Now, as I go through the clash list, I use my SpacePilot Pro in Fly mode to get the view looking nice, and when I switch away and back to that clash, my previous camera movement is preserved

  • If you do a search using the Find Comments tool, but don’t enter any search critera, you will be presented with a detailed history of your interaction with the project – very helpful
  • How to re-path NWC file links (basically just close NWF, slightly rename, open NWF, dialog will walk you through it):
    Revit .NWC files not updating

Here’s an idea I came up with for document aggregation:

  • As you know, Design Review can open almost anything and save it as DWFx.  And Navisworks can append / import DWFx data (append = 3D, import =2D).  So you can use this to create a combined project document that has a combination of different data – images, project submissions, markup sets, meeting minutes etc.

    Download Design Review install package from here (700mb).

    You can also download the 2D DWF writer (printer driver) from here.

  • The really cool part is if you create a DWF set from the same originating application (ie. if you export DWFx from Revit) as your geometry, you may be able to select an element on the Sheet View, and find that same element in 3D (see below)
  • I even went so far as to make a PDF of my Clash Report, then print to 2D DWF, then import the pages back into my Navisworks set – interesting way to store Clash report snapshots huh?

Importing 2D DWF data:
When trying to import a 2D DWF, don’t use the Append command (it won’t work, and will tell you it doesn’t contain 3D data).  Instead, use the Import Sheets button on the Project Browser:

Now, you can navigate to an item on the Sheet view, right-click and Find Item in Other Sheets and Models.  To make this all work properly, you should also click the Prepare All button at the bottom of this dialog…

Once you have found the item in your main NWC, click View.  You can then use Focus or Zoom commands to correctly visualize the item from that particular sheet.

You can’t easily put items in folders in the Project Browser, but when you import a new DWF, it puts all of those Sheets together (adding them to the bottom of the list)

You can save multiple viewpoints for each Sheet View.  If you draw redlines on one of these saved sheet viewpoints, be sure to finish the command or switch to modify to input the redline / text into the saved viewpoint.

Double-click on the toplevel NWC in the Project Browser to return to your model.

A note on Phasing:

  • I mistakenly assumed that Navisworks would understand if one object was demolished in a clash set, and thus ignore the clash (because at the time of New Construction, the clash would no longer exist, right?).  Apparently not, so…
  • I created a Rule based on two Search Sets, one of Demolished items, one where the Demolished Phase was undefined.  The rule type to use is “Specified Selection Sets” (pick the two sets).  This effectively excluded the problematic phasing condition from the clash results – and reduced clashes from 177 to 118 in one case…

When exporting a report:

  • I like the Tabular HTML option.  It also exports a folder with a set of larger images.  You can use a PDF printer like CutePDF or Distiller to print the report from IE into a PDF, thus making it easier to transmit
  • You can change the size of the images exported in a Clash Report – use the hold Shift+click on Options method:
    ‘Secret’ Settings: Changing Image Sizes in Navisworks Clash Detection Reports | microsolresources
  • After exporting a report for transmission, it might be a good idea to save the clash views into your Navisworks project, like this:
  • Now, using these viewpoints, you can arrange them into folders in Navisworks.  When you export to DWFx, the views will be available to someone using Design Review (or Navisworks Freedom).
  • Keep in mind than an NWF file retains links to NWC files and updates them accordingly, while an NWD is a single container of all data in a Navisworks file at a given time (a snapshot).

Sadface – There is no Tab key for selection cycling of objects under the cursor.

Download link for the free viewer (does anyone else find it funny that Navisworks – inherently a viewing program and not a content creation tool – also has its own viewing program?):
Navisworks Freedom | Free 3D Viewer Download

Further reading / resources:

Autodesk Navisworks Tutorial – Clash Detective

Navisworks Clash Course

Great class for new Navisworks users – download the video from AU:
Autodesk University – BIM for Contractors: An Introduction to Autodesk® Navisworks® Manage 2012, Part 1
Autodesk University – BIM for Contractors: An Introduction to Autodesk® Navisworks® Manage 2012, Part 2

A kind-of workaround for the selection cycling annoyance:

Other Navisworks classes from AU you may want to check out:
Autodesk® Navisworks®: Practical Tips and Tricks from Seven Years in the Construction Industry

Autodesk® Navisworks® Isn’t Just for Contractors: How an Architecture Firm Is Using Navisworks to Improve Its Process

Autodesk® Navisworks® in the A/E Design Firm

Two great tips via The Building Coder today.  Firstly, the updated Revit SDK is available for download from here.  Here are some links:

Revit 2014 SDK (Update April 24, 2013) (exe – 217899Kb)
Revit 2013 SDK (Update April 11, 2012) (exe – 161112Kb)
Revit 2012 SDK (Update June 22, 2011) (exe – 151105Kb)

Secondly, did you realise that Revit 2014 comes with a tool to convert gbXML data into a dwfx file?    Look in your Revit program folder for a file called gbXML2dwfx.exe